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As only Rectitude divine he knows, As truth and sanctity his thoughts compose; So these the dictates which th' Eternal Mind To reasonable beings has assign'd; These has his care on ev'ry mind impress'd, The conscious seals the hand of Heav'n attest; When man, perverse, for wrong forsakes the right, He still attentive keeps the fault in sight; Demands that strict atonement should be made, And claims the forfeit on th' offender's head. But Doubt demands-Why man dispos'd this
way? Why left the dang'rous choice to go astray ? If Heav'n that made him did the fault foresee, Thence follows, Heav'n is more to blame than he.' No-had to good the heart alone inclin’d, What toil, what prize had Virtue been assign'd ? From obstacles her noblest triumphs flow, Her spirits languish when she finds no foe. Man might perhaps have so been happy still, Happy, without the privilege of will, And just, because his hands were tied from ill. O wondrous scheme, to mend th' almighty plan, By sinking all the dignity of man!
Yet turn thy eyes, vain sceptic! own thy pride, And view thy happiness and choice allied ; See Virtue from herself her bliss derive, A bliss, beyond the pow'r of thrones to give; See Vice, of empire and of wealth possessid, Pine at the heart, and feel herself unbless'd : And, say, were yet no further marks assign'd, Is man ungrateful ? or is Heav'n unkind ?
• Yes, all the woes from Heav'n permissive fall, The wretch adopts—the wretch improves them all:
From his wild lust, or his oppressive deed,
Yet while on Earth triumphant vice prevails,
'Tis in that awful all-disclosing day,
Oh then, while penitence can Fate disarm, While ling'ring Justice yet withholds its arm; While heav'nly Patience grants the precious time, Let the lost sinner think him of his crime ; Immediate to the seat of mercy fly, Nor wait to-morrow-lest to-night he die!
But tremble, all ye sins of blackest birth, Ye giants, that deform the face of earth; Tremble, ye sons of aggravated guilt, And, ere too late, let sorrow learn to melt : Remorseless Murder! drop thy hand severe, And bathe thy bloody weapon with a tear : Go, Lust impure! converse with friendly light, Forsake the mansions of defiling night : Quit, dark Hypocrisy ! thy thin disguise, Nor think to cheat the notice of the skies : Unsocial Avarice! thy grasp forego, And bid the useful treasure learn to flow : Restore, Injustice! the defrauded gain : Oppression, bend to ease the captive's chain, Ere awful Justice strike the fatal blow, And drive you to the realms of night below!
But Doubt resumes- If Justice has decreed, The punishment proportion'd to the deed ; Eternal misery seems too severe, Too dread a weight for wretched man to bear : Too harsh! that endless torments should repay The crimes of life-the errors of a day !
In vain our reason would presumptuous pry; Heav'n's counsels are beyond conception high ; In vain would thought his measur'd justice scan; His ways how different from the ways of man! Too deep for thee his secrets are to know, Inquire not, but more wisely shun the wo; Warn’d by his threat'nings, to his laws attend, And learn to make Omnipotence thy friend. Our weaker laws, to gain the purpos'd ends, Oft pass the bounds the lawgiver intends ; Oft partial pow'r, to serve its own design, Warps from the text, exceeding reason's line,
Strikes biass'd at the person, not the deed,
But God alone, with unimpassion'd sight,
Thus human justice (far as man can go)
And you, ye happier souls! who in his ways
The work of life with approbation done,
See on his throne the gaudy Persian plac'd, In all the pomp of the luxuriant East ! While mingling gems a borrow'd day unfold, And the rich purple waves emboss'd with gold; Yet mark this scene of painted grandeur yield To the fair lily that adorns the field : Obscur'd, behold that fainter lily lies, By the rich bird's inimitable dyes ; Yet these survey confounded and outdone By the superior lustre of the Sun; That Sun himself withdraws his lessen'd beam From thee, the glorious Author of his frame.
Transcendent Power! sole arbiter of fate! How great thy glory! and thy bliss how great! To view from thy exalted throne above, (Eternal source of light, and life, and love) Unnumber'd creatures draw their smiling birth; To bless the Heav'ns, or beautify the Earth; While systems roll, obedient to thy view, And worlds rejoice--Which Newton never knew,